How do tell when my stylus is too much worn?


I have had my MC cartridge for about 5 years. I haven't kept a proper log but I would guess about 7-800 hrs. How can I tell BY LISTENING that it is worn enough to replace or retip? Does it get edgy or shrill or....?
I suspect that the change would be so gradual that it might be hard to tell, as the ear slowly accomodates.
Of course I should remove the cartridge and view under a microscope but un mounting and remounting is a perilous business that I would like to avoid.


rrm
I keep my cartridges very clean. They last a lot longer than they probably should when reading about what manufacturers/reviewers say cartridge life is. In my experience the suspension starts to go bad. When that happens things start to get muddy. 
I always use a test record when I install a new cartridge, and use it as a reference to check the cartridge.

I can buy a big telescope and pretend to be astronomer but the

telescope as such can't make astronomer from me. Well by

comparison with whatever miscroscope ...Consider all those

styli shapes. After loking at, say, 3 kinds one can't remember

either except the old ''trusted'' oval kind.

So the answer depends from our belief. Belief in the honesty of

our retipper as well in his capability to judge the gradations

of wear . The problem is that they can charge 500 euro for a

simple retip by which the cantilever/stylus combo is glued on

the tube rest of the old cantilever. According to Andreoli who

learned the trade by Aussie brothers he was able to do this job

in 5 minute time.

Fermi has stated: ''If I was smarter I could remember more of

those particles than I actually do''.  


Of course I should remove the cartridge and view under a microscope but un mounting and remounting is a perilous business that I would like to avoid.
Looks like you will void visual examining of stylus and only limit yourself to finding stylus problems only by ear which is somewhat inefficient.
Very often you may find degraded performance of inner tracks including sibilance. Also in diamond stylus less likely diamond tip is affected, but more likely stylus mount and cantilever which is visible under jewelers loupe 

Dear @rrm: 800 hours? looks not excessive. Now, manufacturer can tell us that stylus tip can goes over 1K hours or even 2K hours.

Now, the stylus tip degradation can be faster when LP's are not well cleaned and when the stylus tip is used not well cleaned or both. These accelerates the stylus tip damage.

My take with any stylus tip is to re-tip after or near 500 hours. This gives me ( someway. ) certainty that my LPs surface can't be damaged for it and that thank's that the stylus tip has no more hours its performance will be really near as when 200-300 hours with almost no demerit in the quality performance of what I'm listening.

For me 800 hours says it's time to re-tip but this is me.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Raul

All cartridge maunufacturers must love you!

500 hours of use then discard is total BS!
Beogram turntables with moving coil are still around since 80's and sounding good. Most of decks with lost styluses had been mishandled by owner. Others perform like champions. Unfortunately for some reasons cartridges aren't made anymore for them, or worth the fortune. I hoarded at least several Beograms with needles and checked their styluses and noticed little to no gunk and no loss of suspension integrity that is including tip and cantilever mounts. 
To be sure I carefully applied CRC spray on each and every one of the vintage cartridges. The playback is exceptionally clean for outer and inner tracks. 
Diamond tip can serve forever, but suspension and cantilever is what wears out. In case of beograms with lightest arms, the suspension is never too stressed. 
Raul,
500 hours is certainly safe but may be a little extreme. I'm sure it depends on the manufacturer. I read somewhere that dynavectors are only supposed to be good for about 800 hours. I have an old karet with 3 times that on it & it still looks & sounds fine. Anyway, this is straight out of my current cartridge manual:
The normally lifetime of a Clearaudio HD Diamond is by careful treatment and correctly adjustment up to 8000 hours!
Notice the words "up to". However it also has a boron cantilever & I keep my records & cartridge clean so I'm hoping I'm set for a while. :-)  
Not to muddy the waters but doesn't Van den Hul suggest 3,000 hours for his cartridges?

''to muddy the waters'' the Ortofon ''Replicant stylus'' can endure

2000 hours. I own 3 Ikeda's carts from the 80is (FR 7 fz, f and

8 c , the cantileverless kind) all of them still going strong. Strange

 btw that our ''highest carts authority'' has no idea about the lifeteme

 of styli.

Dear @don_c55 / @czarivey / @boxer12: The issue is " deeper " than manufacturer specs or what we think and experienced about.

Many years ago Ortofon published what they found out on the stylus tip wear. They make several tests and declared that the diamond tip starts to shows ( under microscophic. ) tiny signs of wear just after 250 hours when LP are well cleaned as the stylus tip. They did it ( if I remember ) with 3 different stylus tip shapes where the line contact " suffers " a little higher signs of wear.

In the past with vintage cartridges no manufacturer that I can remember spoke on 2K hours or more even not 1K hours and many of them spoke on those 500 hours and the stylus tip diamond ( as material ) was not different on the newer cartridge designs.

Now, we have think on the turtouse road and very high friction/forces generated between each LP groove and the really tiny tiny stylus tip surface that are in contact.
It’s true that diamond is at the top of the mohs scale: 10 for harness but even this is not " immune " to wear.

In the other side and at microscopic levels that’s where everything is happening during playback: a " tiny " scracht in the LP grooves it shows it for the stylud tip a if that " deformation " been the Everest mountain and needs to " figth " against it. The LP surface have macroscopic and microscopic scratches and other kind of " anomalies " that for the stylus tip is a serious obstacule where sometimes the stylus tip looks one of those anomalies as if was a big stone of 1 ton.

Over that LP surface is full of dust and it does not matters how well we cleaned the LP. Exist microscopic dust that we can't see it. As a fact it’s in the room enviroment and is attracted my static or just gravity inside the grooves. This kind of dust degrade the stylus tip life and certainly the grooves integrity.

Ok, we can’t hear or be aware of that kind of damage and what we listen is fine, we don’t listen any kind of " aberration " during the cartridge tracking job.
This is influenced by what @rrm/OP posted:

""" I suspect that the change would be so gradual that it might be hard to tell, as the ear slowly accomodates. """

and maybe because the room/audio system has not the level of resolution for we can be aware of.

If our target is to have and stay with the very high quality levels in our room/audio system then my advise is not wait over those 800 hours to re-tip the cartridge.
I think that 500-600 hours is what we have to take in count.

As I posted that is me but as always with any audio subject is up to you.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISORTIONS,
R.
Records are sometimes much more valuable than bloody needle, and if that's the priority one should disregard figures of thousands of hours and replace earlier. 500-600 hours is of course very conservative but why not? I would stay under 1000 hours, anyway.
It is also debatable whether slightly rounded edges on a slightly worn fancy diamond, result in more audible record wear than say one with a simple conical tip. Of course the fancy diamond will sound better, but is there less record wear?

I have old records played many times on cheap old MM cartridges from the early 70’s that sound "mint" with expensive properly setup MC cartridges of today.

Records can survive more abuse than you think. Also your system resolution comes into the equation..

I feel the best solution is have two interchangeable arm tubes (like VPI and other brands) which contain a new and older cartridges for audible comparison.

If you can not hear a difference, you do not need a retip, or new cartridge.

I do that.


@rauliruegas , publishing sometimes do not match real facts.
Raul,
Do you listen to more vinyl than digital? Just curious how many times a year you re-tip? 
another one of signs of warn stylus is it's not erect anymore and may fall down almost to the chassis under normal tracking weight.

czarivey, You are obviously confused : ''erection problem'' is

called ''low riders'' , stylus wear may look as similar but is

totally different problem. The problem of this problem is ''anybody

guess'' as can be seen in this thread. From 500 till at least 2000

hours are opinion differences. Even worst are opinions about

''records vulnerability'' According to some real experts 5 g VTF

is no problem at all. I.e. 0,5 g is much more dangerous.

Dear @don_c55 : "  I have old records played many times on cheap old MM cartridges from the early 70’s that sound "mint" with expensive properly setup MC cartridges of today. "

in those old times cartridge stylus tip was conical that let the deep information recorded in the grooves " untouchable " , so are as " new " and with line contact shapes that information comes alive for the very first time. Yes, LP surface is resistent to the stylus tip very hard friction. Now, that for whatever reasons we are not aware either the stylus tip wear levels or LP surface damages does not means is happening each time we use that cartridge and any LP.
My take is to try stay " always " in a safe umbral.

Btw, @boxer12, I listen both sourcves but a little more on analog. I own 100+ MM/MC cartridges and normally I don't stick with one of them but more rotating . I still own cartridges that I never tested yet.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Raul

The MM cartridges that I referred to from the 70's were Shure M97 and were elliptical not conical!

It is more about the size of the diamond tip than shape.
Dear @don_c55 : Yes,but M97 came with different stylus shape and inside the shape different dimension. They came: conical, two different ellipthical and hiperellipthical too.

Anyway, microridge or replicant or VDH2 goes deeper in the grooves and this helps in the quelity of listen levels. Of course that with today stylus shape the cartridge parameters for the set up has no " margin " to error if we want top quality performance levels.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
I just got the CBS STR-100 test record which has some tests purported to reveal wear and excessive VTF. I haven't pulled out a worn stylus to see if it works yet, though.
It has been 18 plus months or so since this thread was last updated. Poster "rauliruega" is spot on with his comments, observations and recommendations. However, he mentions that Ortofon published data on stylus tip wear. I have never been able to find such a document and I called Ortofon asking for it. So I think he means Shure and JICO, both did similar research on stylus wear hours. Their work pointed toward 400 to 500 hours of life for advanced tip shapes.

I recently took the same journey that Poster "rmm" took. What is codified in this thread is the reason why I was so confused also about critical stylus wear and hour of play life. All of the opinions expressed here are not otherwise supported by empirical research. They should be, while current cartridge manufacturers give conflicting answers to the question on critical stylus wear.

A record of my sojourn to learn how long stylus tips last is in print. As "rmm" did, I asked questions, and searched forums, looking for an answer. When I found, as in this thread, opinions that ranged all over the map, I did a deeper dive into the subject. This dive was driven to find out if my cartridge tip was worn to the point where it could damage my records. And I have a lot of records that I do not want to damage. I did not do any original research, while I am setting up to monitor my cartridge stylus tip with photomacrography. See this link to understand what that means: http://www.micrographia.com/projec/projapps/viny/viny0300.htm.

I compiled everything I learned along the way into an written piece that was published in late May (2019) on The Vinyl Press. I found a lot of material on the subject that I believe will help answer your question.

See the link to my essay or discussion or article, whatever you want to call it, here: https://thevinylpress.com/the-finish-line-for-your-phonograph-stylus/.
Also, see this thread for a number of terrific responses to this article: https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/the-finish-line-for-your-phono-cartridge-stylus-wear-by-mike-...

I think it’s pretty easy to compare used cartridge to a new cartridge (or rarely used one), i have multiple samples of the same cartridges. First thing to do is A/B test in the headphones, i have two identical turntables with two identical tonearms to do A/B test like that. If the used cartridge does not sound as good as the new one (or very low hrs one) then it’s time to think about new stylus (or new cartridge in better condition).

Any cartridge can be checked by professionals like SoudSmith or anyone else in business for about $40.

Since i’m still searching for a perfect sound i don’t want to retip any MC, because i can use the money toward another (better MC) cartridge. The more i search the more fantastic MC cartridges can be discovered. My latest discovery is Miyabi MCA from Takeda-San.

Situation is easier with MM/MI and their original styli.

My favorite cartridges are all from the 80’s and somehow i can find them in perfect condition (NOS or low hrs of use), over the years i’ve learned that very few models have serious problems with suspension/damper, those carts are top of the line Technics and Victor X-1 (not X-1II). I’ve never had any problems with vintage cartridges from many other brands/models.

In my opinion the best way to cure your cartridge is to buy another one (instead of rettipping the same one) when it comes to MC. I’ve noticed people who promote one particular model of the cartridge never tried even 20 different cartridges, so the experience is limited. For some reason they think retip is worth it. But there are so many fantastic cartridges can be purchased for the price some vendors charge just for retip.

Using a cartridge for 500hrs and then send it for retip is nonsence
MicroRidge, Gyger, MicroLine, Replicant 100 styli can be used at least for 1500 hrs or even up to 2000 hrs. Look for Shibata, Stereohedron or LineContact at least.

A used cartridge with conical or elliptical styli must be avoided for sure because of the very short life-span of such diamonds.  


@aspens  Thank you for sharing your paper. It was a very interesting read with attention to detail and acknowledgements. 
My initial reaction is ”that reminds me why I used to buy MM". Installing a new stylus is a piece of cake, of course if they are still being produced. Through this forum, @chakster , @rauliruegas and others, I've recently purchased and have been using a Stanton 881S with D81 Stereohedron stylus. As you know those stylus are no longer being produced so I was lucky to get a low hour example. As your paper points out VTF contributes to stylus wear, amazingly enough the Stanton high compliance cartridges spec is from 0.75 grams to 1.25 grams. Mine is set to 1 gram which is much lighter than a typical modern production specification for a cartridge. Your paper points out at least 20% longer life for a lighter VTF, and it seems that the high compliance cartridges of the past were leaning towards the lighter VTF, which also result in longer stylus life. 
@captain_winters 


Stanton 881S with D81 Stereohedron stylus. As you know those stylus are no longer being produced so I was lucky to get a low hour example. As your paper points out VTF contributes to stylus wear, amazingly enough the Stanton high compliance cartridges spec is from 0.75 grams to 1.25 grams.

Great cartridge and amazing stylus profile, i love Stereohedron! 

Pickering D-3000 Stereohedron is also compatible with your Stanton 881, asctually your Stanton based on Pickering XSV-3000 model. I have a NOS factory sealed D3000 Stereohedron stylus if you need a backup. 

For both Stanton and Pickering the optmal setting of VTF with brush is:

Arm setting with brush: 2 grams +/- 1/4
Resulting tracking force: 1 gram +/- 1/4
Arm setting without brush: 1 gram +/- 1/4


Norman Pickering was a noted violinist. He invented the Pickering cartridge because he didn't like how violins sounded on other cartridges. So, he is thus far one of the cartridge designers in the USA besides Joe Grado who was also a musician. Pickering's factory manager was none other than Walter Stanton, who later went out on his own. By 1960, Mr.Stanton bought out Mr.Pickering. He later established Stanton Magnetics Inc in 1961. He was the chairman and president of both Pickering & Co and Stanton Magnetics Inc until 1998. Walter O. Stanton, the inventor of an easily replaceable phonograph stylus that was crucial to creating a consumer market for audio equipment. Stanton and Pickering carts are the same with interchangeable styli despite the very different looking plastic bits and brushes - the trick is figuring out the interchanging model numbers. Pickering XSV-3000 is equal to Stanton 881s, both comes with Nude Stereohedron diamonds on alluminum cantilevers. This is the most advanced stylus shape which is achieved by grinding four flat surface on the diamond at precise angles to each other and their intersection creates areas used to contact the groove. The advantage of the Stereohedron stylus is that because of it's long and narrow contact surfaces it tracks high frequency modulation minimizing groove wear.

Norman C. Pickering, an engineer, inventor and musician whose pursuit of audio clarity and beauty helped make phonograph records and musical instruments sound better. In 1945, Mr. Pickering, who enjoyed listening to records and was frustrated by the sound quality of recordings, developed an improved pickup — that is, the mechanism that includes the phonograph needle, or stylus, and translates the information in the groove of a record into an electrical signal that can be reproduced as sound. Originally His phono pickups were designed for use in broadcast and recording studios. 1947 the demand from high-fidelity fanatics was strong enough for what’s now called a ‘cartridge’ and Pickering & Company was formed to meet the new hobby’s demands. In 1948, Mr. Pickering was among the founders of the Audio Engineering Society, now an international organization that disseminates news and information about improvements in audio technology. By the mid 50's, the Pickering company employed more than 150 people at its Plainview, Long Island headquarters. The best models, however, were introduced only in the 70's and early 80's. Pickering XSV-3000 with nude Stereohedron stylus is one of the best, a few models with higher numbers are even better.

Pickering XSV-3000 specs:

Stylus Type: Nude Stereohedron
Contact Radii: .0028 (71u)
Scanning Radii: .0003 (8u)
Stylus Tracking Force: 1 gram (+/- 0.5)
Setting with Brush: 2 gram (+/- 0.5) resulting operation tracking force 1 gram (+/- 0.5)
Frequency Response: 10 Hz to 30 kHz +
Output: 4.7 mv /cm/sec
Channel Balance: Within 1 dB @ 1kHz
Channel Separation: 35 dB @ 1kHz
Cartridge DC Resistance: 700. ohms
Cartridge Inductance: 350 mH
Cartridge Color: Brown
Load Resistance: 47k ohms or greater
Load Capacitance: 275 pF  

Dear @aspens  : Ortofon published its scientific research about in its site and suddenly dissapeared but was there where for the very first time I learned that at 500 hours of play the stylus tip will starts to make damages in the LP records even that we can't be aware of that damage.

In those all times I posted several times that any cartridge must be rettiped as long as 800 hours of playing time or maximum 1K and every body told me that's was a " crazy " statement because the manufacturers states at least 2K and so no one cares really about.

Not many time ago a gentleman with a Lyra Atlas started a thread because his cartridge was not running with the excellent quality performance he was accustom to. Many Agoners posted their opinions what he needs to do to try fix the problems. 
His cartridge was over 1K hours and I posted that the overall problem was at the stylus tip but he and the other Agoners just all disagree with my post and one of their posts told something like: " M.Fremer Atlas sampler has over 1.5K hours and he reported no single problem ".

Time latter the Atlas owner looks how the stylus tip not only was worn but broken and that cantilever stylus tip is second to none.

No matters what and what the cartridge manufacturers say and if we want to preserve in better condition our beloved LPs and we want to have a " steady " high quality level performance for any and I mean it: ANY cartridge we must to retip between 500-800 hours no matter what.

Many of us are not aware of the stylus " problems " because our home audio system has not a good overall resolution or our ears gone/goes " accustomed "  to the sound and maybe we have not a in deep evaluation proccess to check time to time the listening experience with our cartridges, a proccess that at least needs to have 10-12 recording tracks with different LPs that we know perfectly what we are listening even its click/pops kind of tone. With out this kind of evaluation proccess is almost imposible to evaluate not only the stylus level performance but nothing else. We need that knowlege level.

We can think that MF has that knowledge level but if you read his reviews he always is listening through the review different LPs almost never listening the same LPs with the same LP tracks ! " and he is a " professional reviewer ".

500-800 playing hours is the retip time, no matter what.

Of course this is my opinion only the ONE important is what  all of you think about.

Btw, thank's for your links very useful and leave no " land " to any dude or arguments against it because the research was made it by cartridge manufacturers true EXPERTS not audiophiles or music lovers like us.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R


Dear @rauliruegas, Thank you for your post. And the heads up about Ortofon research. I may inquire again with them. You have been there before, and so have I and as reported in my essay, so have others. Even after I posted a link to my article, which others tell me is well researched, folks assert that retipping at say 500± hours is "nonsense." That is the main reason why I say at some point in my article in reference to me, "People generally believe they know far more than they actually do, and as a consequence, they can be highly skeptical of new information." As Bill Walton is famous for saying, "You can’t teach someone what they don’t want to know." That noted, my recommendation is simple, at about 500 to 600 hours, have your stylus tip checked for wear. If the 500 hour marker is nonsense, the check will reveal that.

I have not done original research on stylus wear. I know that. I only report what Shure and JICO and Harold Weiler and many others actually learned though empirical research. If that is insufficient to get folks to at least check their stylus tips for critical wear, you can’t do more. Advanced tip shapes are designed to maximize the contact with a vinyl groove across the tip and groove. That is why they are so good at high frequency reproduction. And they exhibit distortion only at the point they are damaging record grooves.

But these shapes are still made of diamond. And diamond wears. Shape matters not on the rate of wear; it is VTF per unit area of tip exposure. A lot of that wear comes from grit embedded in the record groove that defies our ability to remove it. Some folks believe that dirt begins to abrade the diamond tip, creating in the process diamond dust. The additional of diamond dust is even more abrasive thereby accelerating tip wear. This is supposition on my part yet I have made an inquiry of someone who knows to see what the precise process is. However, I was told point blank by someone with many, many decades of direct observation that stylus tip shape makes little or not difference is stylus tip life.

Coming from me, I understand that is hearsay. I’m sorry. So that brings me around to the simple recommendation to have your tip examined at about 500 to 600 hours so that you can learn from yourself if it has critical wear. If that examination proves your tip is barely worn, you now have a strong reference point. But if you do not check it, and insist they last for 1,500 hour or more, well, they are your records. On the other hand, maybe on some systems, 500 hours is too soon, it is nonsense. Just check it.
Again, thank you for reaching out and I am glad you enjoyed the piece. It took me a lot longer to put together than I originally anticipated. But I did it to learn, and learn I did.
Some styli must be replaced not after 500hrs, but after 200-300 hrs max, it is all depends on the stylus profile (conical or elliptical dies fast). There is no universal rules for all stylus profiles. Diamonds are not alike, look here.

I have original user manual for ZYX Premium 4D cartridge in my hands right now. What i can read about Micro Ridge (0,07mm) stylus lifespan is 2000 hrs at 2gr. (contact radius 3 um x 60 um). Do you think the manufacturer cheating us claiming the life span is 2000 hrs with 2gr. tracking force ?

If every $5000 MC cartridge must be retipped every 500-800 hrs it is a nonsense to buy them at such high price, because the original manufacturer does not provide a retip, but provides only exchange to a new cartridge for 60% of the retail price.

If you can’t hear the difference between 500hrs used and brand new stylus on MM cartridge with advanced stylus profiles like MicroRidge (1500hrs life span at least) there is absolutely no need to exchange the stylus. You can also compare two samples of the same model of MC to make sure.

The best indicator is our records, if the story with worn styli is true (i mean some high-end diamonds) then all our records must be thrashed already after 500 hrs, but they are not, and some records are 40 years old already.

P.S. With a macro lens on my iPhone i can’t get closer to the stylus than this or that, easier with huge diamonds like replicant-100 or fineline  






@chakster, I have read that you believe these advanced tips may last longer than 500 hours. I’m fine with that, actually. I have not done the research necessary to say otherwise. I do agree with you that stylus life may be dependent upon shape, and that is what JICO discovered, as published now by SoundSmith.

The high centering issue, I think, is recommending life over 500 to 600 hours. Do the advanced tips last 1,500 to 2,000 or in some cases 2,000 hours? Honestly—I admit—I do not know. I can say I do not believe so, but I am not that knowledgeable to say that absolutely. As a consequence, I advise folks to have a look see, get their stylus tip examined at 500 to 600 hours. In my case, I would not say it is "nonsense" that advanced tips only last that long for the simple reason that I have not performed primary research myself to confirm that conclusion. Again, I don’t know. I do know what the case was for my Ortofon Cadenza Black MC played on only very clean records. And 2,000 hours for that tip was not good advice.

So in my case, from what I have learned, I recommend that folks send their kit to a qualified person to pass judgement, if they are not in a position to examine the stylus tip themselves. If someone prefers to operate in the dark, to believe otherwise based on whatever, I’m okay with that because in the end, it is their records. Yet I sure hope I have not been party to their damaging their record collection based on my call.
What I have done clearly in my essay or article or whatever you want to call it, is to appeal to cartridge manufacturers or stylus tip manufacturers (they are/can be different) to publish data on critical stylus tip wear. Yes we have the Shure experience from the mid to late 1970s. Yes we have the JICO reference from whenever, while the primary work is not available to the consuming public. Yes, at one time Ortofon has research out there. Harold Weiler had a great approach, that no one has followed up on. Shame.

What we have is opinion. Thoughts and prayers. Guesses. Subjective this and that. We have so little to really go on. But again, every single system is different. No one has the same turntable, with the same cartridge, and in the same alignment and set up, playing the same records. Given that, how do we know what is what unless we look.

That is why I lay out a whole bunch of stuff to narrow the path. But at the end of the day, we have to be willing to get our kit examined to ensure we have not reached that point were the diamond stylus tip, regardless of its shape, is not doing permanent damage to our precious records. And it is for that reason I am not willing to say it is "nonsense" to take the time and resources necessary to have an advanced tip examined for critical stylus wear at 500 hours. Only then can a user know for certain.
You look at the very tip through a dissecting microscope. If you see oval shaped flats at the sides of the very tip you are done. There is no other way. I have not tried a USB microscope yet but some use them. The dissecting microscope is nice because it is 3D. Everything else you hear here is one assumption on top of another. Looking at the tip is the only way which you can do for a fraction of what Raul spends unnecessarily retipping  cartridges.
Dear @aspens  : Only a small group of audiophiles own true accurate and high resolution home audio systems and if they have its own proved full evaluation system could be the only way that by listening way canbe aware of a worn cartridge stylus in the 500-800 hours of playing range.

The massive other audiophiles have " average " resolution systems where is impossible to be aware off.

In the other side no one of us, normal audiophiles, are true experts to say through any kind of microscope if a stylus tip alredy started to walk in the degradation stylus tip proccess to make very small/tiny damages to our LPs. So your advice to send the cartridge to a true expert is the real alternative about.

Our opinion on that regards that we can do it or that the stylus tip in a top LOMC cartridge can have a life of over 2k hours makes no sense because there are true evidence is not that way.

One thing is the stylus life span and other : after how many hours the stylus tip starts to damage our LPs and here we are talking exactly on that: when starts to make the damages it does not matters if we are or not aware by listening tests about.

The fact is that makes a damage. What any one of us can think against it is totally useless and as you said those LPs are not mines or yours.

We can think whatever but we can't change the fact only because we think in a different way.

At the end all is up to each one of us about. If any one of us think that true experts like Ortofon, Shure or Jico and others are wrong be that way, that does not make any damage/harm to no one but him.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.



 
Raul, Thank you. I have no emotional attachment to being right here. At the end of the day, I don’t care what other people do to their records.

Yet unlike others who offer free advice, I did do the research to learn for myself what was what. As noted in my piece, I was driven by a desire to do no damage to my records, and obviously to get the best playback my system can deliver. What transpired in my case was confirmation through all the research I had done. Folks today who know, others who work this industry, and people I trust, told me stylus tips do not last as long as these otherwise unsupported claims. They were in fact quite frank that at about 500-600 hours, advanced stylus were worn out, and at least at that point needed to be examined. To make it personal, I learned that my Shibata-tip, a line contact stylus, was "badly worn" at 800 hours. That cartridge had never seen even one revolution on a record that was not first cleaned on a VPI17 or in an ultrasonic tank cleaner. I suspect it was worn at 600 hours to the point where it should have been retipped.

If stylus tips truly last 1,500 to 2,000 hours, all the folks who claim that, please do the necessary research to prove that. This request is simple enough. A friend of mine noticed that my sojourn of discovery left me with a touch of cynicism over any long-life claims. He is correct. Clearly, there are two camps here, one you and I are in where we believe advanced stylus tips have shorter rather than longer lifespans, and the second operating under the assumption that lifespans are 3 to 4 times longer. I’ve laid my cards on the table in as transparent and honest a manner as possible. All I wanted to understand was the truth. The narrative I used walks an interested reader through the research and experiences of others. I interviewed many people, users, cartridge retippers and manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, I looked at the AES entire library for pertinent articles, did a deep dive on many papers written on the subject, I read thousands of posts on the subject.

Now it is time for the long-lifers to show why all that I presented is nonsense. Just saying so does not make it so. They’ll need to lay it out for me, as I have done, and prove it. I’ve learned the hard way that talk is cheap.

Thank you for your interest.

Hi,
example from my previous ZYX is that tips can last over 2,000hrs, depending from manufacturer.
Actually the suspension went first. For ZYX end of life means misstracking, plus some loss of sparkle. Good cartridges have great HF extension so some wear will bring down some Khz.
With a proper microscope you can always check whether the shape of your tip is in good condition.